The annual festival, Star Wars Celebrations, which was scheduled for the end of August has been canceled for this year… And next year.
Now, it’s perfectly understandable as to why Celebrations would be shut down this year. It takes place at Disneyland, in California and Fort Mickey West is not re-opening on schedule due to this, that and the other. It’s going to be hard enough to get the park up and running again from a dead-stop, let alone conduct a big Star Wars fest at the same time.
Fine, it makes sense, but why kill off next year’s as well?
Seems a little premature doesn’t it?
I mean, Disney has a whole year to get the place back up and running and it’s a little unreasonable to believe that COVID-19 will continue to be a public health crisis after the election.
So, why kill off next year’s Celebration?
Because Kathleen Kennedy’s contract expires next year.
There have been rumors like this before but most of them were based on little more than common sense.
When George Lucas sold his children to the White Slavers he made it clear that he wanted them well taken care of. Which is where Kennedy came in. She’d worked for him on the Indiana Jones movies for years and he’d known her long before that. She was a loyal subaltern to his buddy Stephen Speilberg. She appeared to respect George.
I am reasonably certain that he thought, that with her at the helm, he was going into a situation where he would be the elder statesman of Star Wars. He thought he’d be influencing things from a distance. Frequently being asked for his input about this project or that direction. His judgment sought if things got murky. His approval would still matter a great deal and he wouldn’t have to answer for any failures.
Instead, the moment the ink was dry on the check, Kennedy’s attitude was goodbye, bolt the door and fuck you, George. Star Wars is mine now.
Except it wasn’t.
The Force Awakens was micro-managed by Bob Iger so there was a hard limit as to how far off the reservation it could go. But with The Last Jedi, Iger took a much more hands-off approach and Kennedy was free to finally make the franchise her own. To put her own stamp on it. To create a legacy for herself in Hollywood, which had always eluded her, before.
Her career was built on the shoulders of giants but the only thing people ever saw was the giant and not her.
Her IMDB page is quite revealing. Yes, she has her name is attached to some of the biggest hits of all time. But it’s also attached to some legendary bombs as well. And some of those were obviously going to be stink-burgers before they went into production. Like the Last Airbender. Anybody, with a once of sense could see that M.Night Shalaman was screwing the pooch, but she literally couldn’t tell good from bad.
“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”
Power is a different process for women than it is for men. For men, it’s all about dominance. But for women, it’s all about gathering. Kennedy finally had power of her own. She could hire her own people, pursue her own projects, make or break careers and further her politics in the real world. Most of all, she could create a legacy that was her own.
What she still couldn’t do was tell good from bad.
You can argue that there was were some ideas in The Last Jedi that could be explored but what you couldn’t say is that it was a good movie because it just wasn’t. The tone was drastically inconsistent, the plot was all over the place, the side adventure with Finn and Rose added absolutely nothing to the plot but run time. It was simply a bad movie.
It fractured the fanbase, lead to the boycott of Solo, killed the toy market and on and on.
The rumors flew that Kathleen was through. But as I said, in hindsight these were just based on common sense. You don’t reward the guy that sinks the Titanic by giving him another ship to sink. Except they did.
Hollywood is much more policy than process-driven these days and The Last Jedi became a touchstone in the industry. If you had an opinion about it, it had better be a good opinion or you were going to be an Untouchable pretty quickly.
In that environment, Disney was limited in what it could do to her and Kennedy knew it. It gave her breathing room to gather even more power for herself. And if the third movie was a hit, then it would be, “all good, we’re all friends here, right?”
Besides, there was no clear successor. Nobody it appeared wanted the job of Captain of the Titanic.
Except it turned out someone did.
There is now a flurry of rumors coming out of Lucasfilm about the future of Star Wars. And Kathleen Kennedy doesn’t appear to be any part of it. Her own projects are quietly being slow-walked and starved of resources, while the clock ticks down on the time left on her contract.
One of the rumors is that she finally had “the meeting with the Bobs,” about her vision for the future of Star Wars.
One of the leaks making the rounds is that the Rey-verse is going to be retconned away. This makes all kinds of sense because the story is so broken at this point, there really is no way forward with it. But Kray-Kray Kay-Kay doesn’t care about narrative sense or story continuity. Those things have always been somebody else’s problem in her world but what she cares deeply about is her own legacy and if the Rey-verse is shit-canned, then she has brought nothing to the party but massive failure.
Except, that the meeting wasn’t about the future of Star Wars it was about the future of Kathleen Kennedy. During the meeting, she was shown a timeline starting with her taking the helm of Lucasfilm and ending with the present. All of the trends for film revenue, toy sales, Park revenue, fan engagement, plus a few other things, have all, uniformly trended down during her tenure. And as a result, her contract would not be renewed.
Another rumor is that she is now on a recruiting drive at Lucasfilm. She is looking for people who would be willing to jump ship with her when she leaves next year to form her own feminist centric production company.
All of these things, I must stress are rumors.
But what isn’t a rumor is that Celebrations is canceled for the next two years and that Kennedy’s contract expires next year. Those things are facts.
What is also a fact is that Star Wars Celebrations 2022 would be the perfect venue to announce a new direction for a now Kennedy free Galaxy, far, far away.